Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Dog daze


I’m taking a little informal poll here. Tell me what you think.

We have a neighbor, a to-all-appearances nice lady in her mid-seventies, who leaves her dog outside 24/7. Technically he spends most of his days/nights in the garage, but the back door to the garage is left open so he can go in and out.

Problem is, the garage isn’t heated and it’s gettin’ cold outside. It got down to freezing on Wednesday night. Yep, good ol’ Sam spent the night in his garage.

Our neighbor was out of town at the time and had been for several days. In fact, she’s been gone more than she’s been home for the past couple of months, but now that the temperatures are dropping at night and it’s raining quite a bit, we’re worried about her dog.

So on Thursday morning we left a note on her door for the person who’d been coming by to feed Sam. Since we didn’t know when “Cruella” was coming home, we expressed our concerns and asked if someone could take Sam with them until she got back.

Well, Cruella got home Thursday evening and must have seen the letter. Today she came by to tear us a new one, telling us, in a more roundabout way, to mind our own business. We live in the country now, she said. Lots of people leave their dogs out. I added to our complaint by telling her that Sam barks at night when she’s not home, so we have that issue on the docket too, but her main argument was that she can treat her dog however she likes. It’s not neglect. It’s not cruel. It’s country.

TrumpWorld, remember?

Anyway, my poll question is, were we on solid ground expressing concern for Sam’s welfare? If Cruella had been home all those days, we wouldn’t have made a fuss, but since she was out of town there was no telling how long Sam would be at risk. Or how low the temperature would go each night.

So, if you see something say something? Or butt out?


20 comments on “Dog daze

  1. anderskermod
    December 10, 2016

    Who knows what a dog thinks or feels? (You certainly can’t rely on what they tell you.) My guess (and it is just a guess) is that his coat provides enough protection from the cold. But they are social animals. I’d be more worried about loneliness than about the weather, to be frank.

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 10, 2016

      Thanks for your comment, Anders. I think cold tolerance depends on the breed to a large extent (I did a little research), but any breed needs a smaller shelter than a garage in order to preserve the body heat.

      But I agree completely that isolation is just as destructive to dogs. They’re social animals and need to feel like they’re in a pack. This poor guy is alone all day every day.

  2. kingmidget
    December 10, 2016

    We’ve had dogs most of my life. There was a period of time during my childhood — maybe about 5 years when we didn’t. But other than that the family home has always had a dog. The dog we got when I was a young teenager lived outside. It was allowed to visit its humans in the house during the day, but at night it slept in the garage. Which was unheated and with the side door open for it to go outside. And living in Sacramento we have the same “close to freezing, if not freezing” temps at night a few times during the winter also. I have absolutely no memory of that dog being able to come into the house at night when it was cold But who knows. Maybe I’m wrong. My parents’ dog died earlier this year. It was the dog that my mom thought would be her last dog, but it passed away unexpectedly and at a young age. My mom was devastated and immediately began searching for a new dog. In the discussions about a particular dog, the shelter owners wanted to make sure she would take proper care of the dog — my mom is 81. My mom assured them that the dog would be cared for. She goes for walks and takes the dog twice a day. And she made clear that, while the dog would sleep outside most of the time, when it got cold at night, the dog would sleep in her room … in the house. I was flummoxed by this because of my memory of earlier dogs never being able to do such a thing. So, again, maybe my memories are wrong. All I know is that I have those memories … of how we lived with our dogs. They were outside animals that hung out in the house with their humans a few hours here a few hours there. Every day. But they lived and slept outside.

    So, I’m not as bothered by this. I think it’s fine to raise your concerns. Her reaction is far too much of an over-reaction. She should appreciate that somebody is watching and cares.

    By the way, I married a woman whose family is the opposite. Their dogs are like humans. They live indoors. Sleep on the furniture. My dog experience has changed dramatically since my childhood. 😉

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 10, 2016

      You’re probably representative of a lot of people, Mark, who grew up a certain way and never perceived a problem. But I view it a little bit like declawing cats. It used to be pretty common. I did it a number of times too, but it’s come to be seen as cruel now — at least in California — and I bet very few cats are declawed anymore.

      Animal rights advocates have been vocal these last ten, twenty years, so there’s a lot more awareness of how animals should be cared for. Heck, I remember Lyndon Johnson picking up his beagles by their ears! That ain’t kosher anymore.

      There’s a “to each his own” issue in all of this too, but I hate to think this poor old guy is suffering when it’d be so easy to make him happy. He wouldn’t even have to sleep on the furniture … 😉

      • kingmidget
        December 10, 2016

        I guess I’m not sure a dog is suffering by sleeping in a garage on cold nights as they exist in our neck of the woods. Would the dog be happier inside with its humans? Of course, but that would go for every night of the year. Dogs are animals. I don’t have an issue with people who treat them as such. That doesn’t mean they should be beaten, starved, or abused. I guess it lies in one’s definition of abuse though.

        And this is where I tend towards a “to each his own” attitude. This is in the gray area of whether or not it is abusive … as a result, “to each his own.”

      • Kevin Brennan
        December 10, 2016

        Right, which is why we wouldn’t have said anything if the owner had been home. I hate to have to watch what I consider to be subpar animal care on a daily basis, but if she’s home she can deal with any problems. Oh, St. Francis, please guide us! 😉

  3. John W. Howell
    December 10, 2016

    Here is my opinion. The woman ought to take care of her animal. There is no excuse for leaving a barking dog and you were within your rights to ask her to keep him quiet. (poor thing) I would call animal control or the police next time. You have given her sufficient warning of the cruel treatment of the animal. I say cruel because if the dog was content it would not bark. BTW I don’t think this is a TrumpWorld issue I think you have a stupid neighbor whose dog has separation issues

    • pinklightsabre
      December 10, 2016

      Totally agree with John. Nice sentiment, there and yes, no need to put too much more power on TrumpWorld. There’s also the simple sentiment,’people are people’ and that’s not often a good thing, especially for their pets.

      • Kevin Brennan
        December 10, 2016

        I know what you mean, Bill. Whatever floats one’s boat. We probably would be less tuned in here if the dog weren’t just ten feet from our side door!

        “People are people” = “Hell is other people” = “I’m a hermit.”

      • John W. Howell
        December 10, 2016


    • Kevin Brennan
      December 10, 2016

      Thanks for your thoughts on this, John. I’m hesitating to call animal control because I’m afraid if they take the dog he’ll get put down. He’s old and probably not adoptable. I’d hate that to happen. I’d pursue a noise abatement approach if it were easier to do in this county. The fact that the barking happens at night is hard to prove to an officer who’s not present.

      I’m hoping that our shaming, in essence, of the woman’s treatment of the dog will change her behavior. We’ll see.

      As for TrumpWorld, maybe that’s in the eye of the beholder! 👀

  4. 1WriteWay
    December 10, 2016

    I’m more than happy to blame Trump for any bad behavior I see these days, but, unfortunately abuse and neglect of animals has been around for a long, long time. Your neighbor’s treatment of her dog is no different than what I’ve seen in my own neighborhood for years. I think you did right to let the “pet sitter” know you were concerned, especially if the dog was barking all night (I’m assuming that the dog doesn’t bark when your neighbor is home). You don’t know how the garage is set up. She could have a doggie bed in there, some additional shelter; although I don’t understand why anyone would have a dog if they are just going to leave it outside 24/7. I suppose she thinks it adds security. Right. You know, if a dog is barking all night long without someone breaking into the house, then nobody is going to pay attention to it’s barking when someone IS breaking into the house.

    I’m confident that I and my husband would have gone only as far as you did (alerting the neighbor to your concerns). Unless we could actually document abuse, that would probably be the end of it, while we patiently wait for the dog to die and be out of it’s presumed misery (or maybe the neighbor to die, which would be my preference).

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 10, 2016

      Actually we do have a pretty good idea of what the garage is like inside, and though the neighbor claims there’s a bed in there, the dog tends to lie on the bare concrete a lot. But the space is way too big to take advantage of his body heat. If she kept a dog house in there for him, that might help.

      I’m glad you’d be as reticent as we are to escalate from here, though. It’s a touchy situation. I’m looking forward to the day there’s a For Sale sign on the house! Sadly, the dog’ll probably be long gone by then.

      • 1WriteWay
        December 10, 2016

        One bad neighbor can spoil the whole neighborhood. Most people I know who leave their dogs out all the time are either mean people who see dogs only as something to use, not to love or are nice people who are simply clueless about a dog’s needs. I’m afraid your neighbor seems to be the former.

      • Kevin Brennan
        December 10, 2016

        The real irony is that she’s a Jehovah’s Witness and probably ought to be compassionate about all living things. You’d think.

      • 1WriteWay
        December 10, 2016

        Ewww …

  5. Lynn Zeller Brennan
    December 10, 2016

    I can’t justify leaving your dog outside in the heat OR cold. I agree, why have dogs? Your brother takes it to the extreme though… “I can’t lay on that couch, the dog is on it.” Seriously? My dogs are my family, but they ARE dogs. Our neighbor left his old, blind dog out one freezing night. He passed out drunk after letting the poor thing out. We woke up the next morning to see this fluff of white partially frozen to the ground. WE felt bad not knowing he was out there all night. Your neighbor’s dog apparently only has the two of you looking out for it. Poor thing. You did the right thing.

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 10, 2016

      Wow, that’s a sad story about your neighbor’s dog. Shoulda been criminal charges brought against that guy.

      I’m glad we said something, because now she can’t pretend to be in the dark. Yep, we’re judging her!

      It’s raining like hell today and guess where that poor pup is … 😦

  6. islandeditions
    December 11, 2016

    I’d report her. She obviously has no sense of responsibility towards the dog. Why does she even own it? Although I think it’s likely there simply to protect her property. We have the same problem here on Bequia where people keep dogs tied up on a short leash 24/7 and feed them leftovers or chicken backs with bones (cheapest meat) – essentially creating junkyard dogs – because most local people are afraid of dogs and thieves will generally go on to the next house rather than contend with a barking dog. But then people here tend to treat family members as chattel and think it’s their right to treat them whichever way they wish. There are no laws here covering the mistreatment of animals, but there are in your neck of the woods. So I say … report her.

    By the way, whenever someone local approaches our house (legitimately) they call up to us first, You does has dogs? I like to throw them for a loop and say, No, but we have very vicious cats. That always makes them stop and ponder a moment.

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